It's a tale as old as time. Dragon kidnaps a princess and holds her captive until a hero comes to save the day and the princess. The dragon is slain and all is well again...until she gets kidnapped by Dragon Jr. or something like that. Anyway, so it goes with the NES game Castle of Dragon! Only about ten times the amount of fun that Mario Bros. games aren't.
The first thing that caught my attention in the game was the music. When I heard it, I couldn't help but think, "Hm. Maybe this game isn't so bad after all?"
I was wrong.
It was so much worse.
Castle of Dragon is probably as bland and uncreative as its title. Even the backstory sounds like it was written by my awkward junior high self. Actually, the story I wrote back then was a bit more in-depth than this. A kingdom is under siege by an evil enchanted dragon named Darklarza. That name alone was enough to raise an eyebrow at. And that's not even the best name! Get this: the princess's name is Amoreena...from the kingdom of OFFERIA. Someone spent about three seconds coming up with those names. Okay, back to the story. The dragon steals the princess and takes her to his well-fortified, well-furnished magic castle down the road from where Duke Garden...I mean, Duke Geraden is. So Duke Geraden romps and stomps his way to the dragon to steal back his beloved Ammonia. Easy-peasy, right?
HA HA HA NO.
Dragon? Only in the fact that it plays like an old dinosaur...
This game's difficulty is off the charts to the point where it becomes incredibly tedious. The only hope you have for beating the game is the mechanic they put in when you get a Game Over. This mechanic is proof that the developers knew the game was difficult and that you would lose over and over again. Getting a game over in Castle of Dragon is basically getting a Continue in any other game. Once you start a new game, you start with the same weapons and life meter that you acquired during the previous playthrough. That is, if you got very far. One that that incredibly frustrated me was the fact that you can get "stuck" on enemies. As in, you go to attack them and they just walk into you and cause major damage in a short amount of time. The same goes for several of the mini-bosses and the end boss Darklarza himself. If you somehow get stuck inside the enemy, you're done for. Another thing is the jumping. I guarantee that you'll lose most of your lives trying to hop on a platform at EXACTLY the right moment. There's no leeway there. And least the jump button works well. It's the timing that stinks.
The enemies themselves are a design mistake. What was supposed to be a minotaur looks more like Yogi Bear with a giant ax. Duke Gardenia doesn't even look like he's wearing pants, not to mention the breasticles on Medusa. For shame! All in all, the game isn't too bad looking for an NES game, but not much imagination went into it until the end where you literally fight your mirrored self. The end boss is a complete disappointment. Darkizard is just sitting there in a pitch dark room waiting for you. The final fight for princess Amorayeela consists of you and the dragon with a completely black background. The final fight is supposed to be the coolest fight in the game! Instead, it feels like an unfair waste of time. Seriously, the big guy can kill you in about ten seconds flat. What's worse is that sometimes you make contact with your sword and no damage happens! Actually, damage does happen...TO YOU. In short, your death is inevitable. After that happens, guess what? You have to play the game all over again! Yeah, no thanks.
Overall, the game is actually kind of short. The levels are short-ish with recycled enemies. Not much effort was put into a design that just switches color palletes on its enemies every level. Oh, and did I mention that Duke Grenade is completely orange? Yep, just like a wannabe Jersey Shore-ian. I know NES games aren't supposed to be pretty, but I would hope the fun would help me oversee that fact. No, nothing could help me oversee how bad this game is. It's not the worst, but it's far from the best. Very far. As far as this game is from being creative.
Oh, yes. I went there.